Mining Resources: The Main Types of Mining

People have been involved in the extraction of different types of metals from the earth since time immemorial. At first, they focused of the metals and later minerals near or on the surface of the earth. However, with better mining technology, they began extracting metals, ores and minerals deep underground.

Types of Mining

Surface Mining

As the name suggests, this type of mining deals with minerals and other deposits found either on the surface of the earth or very close to surface. Open cast mining, as it is also known, is relatively less labor intensive because the required minerals can be reached easily. Sometimes all it takes is stripping off the earth’s upper surface to access the minerals.

Surface mines generally do not go beyond 200 meters deep. When the mines are too deep, surface mining involves the removal of too much overburden, increasing the costs.

Underground Mining

The minerals lying close to the earth’s surface have largely been depleted, requiring miners to get deeper underground. This type of mining is referred to as underground mining. Different mining techniques are used to extract the required minerals, which are relatively expensive because of the machines used and required manpower.

undergroun mining

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Basically, underground mines are accessed via inclined roadways known as adits or vertical shafts. One access route is reserved for workers and materials while another is used to transport the extracted ore to enhance ventilation and safety.

The ore deposits are reached via horizontal tunnels with strengthened roof supports. Rock layers may be tied together using bolts.

There are many mining techniques but those mentioned below are the main ones.

  1. Block caving involves drilling tunnels beneath the ore deposits before fragmenting the rock above so it collapses under its weight. The raw material is then drawn through “ore passes.”
  2. Room and pillar method involves excavating rooms with pillars left to support the roof. It is often used in shallow mines with thick, low-value mineral deposits.
  3. Cut and fill technique is used in irregular high-value mineral deposits. Mining is undertaken upwards in horizontal slices that are consecutively backfilled to provide floors after extracting minerals.
  4. Longwall systems are largely used in coal mines where extraction is performed between two parallel roadways.


This technique is used to mine low-value products in large volumes. The minerals are extracted from shallow water using buckets or scoops.

In situ Mining

Two techniques are used: Solution technique involves injecting water into soluble deposits via drill holes. Thermal method involves burning coal in situ to recover the resultant heat.

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